Week 1: Home vs Bengals
To start the season off the Ravens get a home Monday Night Football game. Last year the Ravens swept the Bengals en route to a perfect divisional record. While I don’t see them sweeping the division again this year they should start the year off with a bang by beating the Bengals at home on national TV. The Ravens can cover WR A.J. Green with a combo off their good, young CBs which will leave the Bengals with limited options on offense.
Prediction: Ravens 27 Bengals 17 (Record 1-0)
Week 2: Away vs Eagles
The Ravens have had trouble containing running QBs in the past so Michael Vick could cause some problems. Same goes for the Eagles stellar defensive line as the main question for the Ravens is their offensive line. One way for the Ravens to neutralize this to run many screens to Ray Rice and quick passes to WRs Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin. The Ravens are a good screen team so this could work. They will need to attack the safeties and linebackers so seem passes to TEs Pitta and Dickson will be good ideas. The first test for the run defense will be against LeSean McCoy. I expect him to run for about 100 yards against the Ravens. As long as they don’t allow any really long runs they should be fine. With that being said McCoy is a great back and can ruin any game plan.
Prediction: Eagles 23 Ravens 20 (Record 1-1)
Week 3: Home vs Patriots
This very well could be the toughest game on the schedule for the Ravens. Last year the Patriots knocked the Ravens out of the playoffs in the AFC Championship game. The Ravens will be extra motivated to beat them because of this. The defense really confused Tom Brady in that game and since it hasn’t changed much the same could happen. Terrell Suggs wasn’t much of a factor in that game so him missing this game might not be as big as expected. In the end Brady will find a way to win leading the Patriots to victory in this Sunday Night Football game leaving the Ravens extra motivated for a potential playoff game.
Prediction: Patriots 24 Ravens 20 (Record 1-2)
Week 4: Home vs Browns
After playing 3 straight playoff contenders the Ravens get their first “easy” game off the year. However, last year 3 of the Ravens 4 losses game in these “easy” games. Games against the Browns are always closer than they should be as the Browns play hard due to the divisional rivalry. Expect the Ravens defense to be too confusing for the young Browns offense. The Browns best defender, CB Joe Haden, could be suspended for this game which will allow the Ravens to throw all they want. This should lead to a big game for Torrey Smith and Joe Flacco.
Prediction: Ravens 31 Browns 13 (Record 2-2)
Week 5: Away vs Chiefs
As I said in my Preseason Power Rankings, I expect the Chiefs to surprise this year. With that being said, they will give the Ravens a good game. With the Chiefs possibly having a good year, the fans at Arrowhead Stadium will be going crazy for this game. This will make it hard for the Ravens offense to communicate. Tamba Hali will cause problems for OTs Bryant McKinnie and Michael Oher. This could be the Chiefs coming out game showing everyone what they can accomplish.
Prediction: Chiefs 20 Ravens 17 (Record 2-3)
Week 6: Home vs Cowboys
The last time these two teams played the Ravens beat the Cowboys in the Cowboys last home game with their old stadium. This years Cowboys are weaker than last year on offense as the offensive line is still bad and they lost key WR Laurent Robinson. Other WR Miles Austin keeps injuring his hamstring and WR Dez Bryant has off the field issues. Recently, TE Jason Witten has suffered a spleen injury. While he is only expected to be out for preseason right now, the injury could linger into the regular season. Their RB situation is unsolved as Felix Jones couldn’t hold down the job last year and DeMarco Murray has only played in a few NFL games. Right now there are too many problems with the Cowboys offense for them to beat the Ravens.
Prediction: Ravens 20 Cowboys 14 (Record 3-3)
Week 7: Away vs Texans
This is a potential preview to the AFC Championship game as these the Texans are 4th and the Ravens are 6th in my Preseason Power Rankings. Last season the Ravens beat the Texans in the Divisional Playoffs. I strongly believe if Matt Schaub was playing for the Texans in that game, they would have won. However, he was injured and 3rd string QB T.J. Yates played instead. The Texans will try and run over the Ravens with their combo of Arian Foster and Ben Tate. This combined with a very strong defense and a healthy Andre Johnson should be enough to beat the Ravens.
Prediction: Texans 20 Ravens 16 (Record 3-4)
Week 8: Bye
The Ravens will need this bye week to regroup after a bad start. The season is still salvageable as they will have just come off 3 straight tough games and will have played 6 tough games out of 7. They will be able to rest up for two “easy” games against the Browns and Raiders and then start the long grind towards a possible playoff berth. Bye weeks in the middle of the year are always preferred.
Week 9: Away vs Browns
The second game against the Browns this season should be closer for a couple of reasons. One is the Browns will be playing at home where the stadium will be behind them for the upset. The second reason is the Browns will have played half the season already so they will have a little bit off experience. This should be enough time for all their rookies to start playing better as they know what the NFL game is like.
Prediction: Ravens 23 Browns 16 (Record 4-4)
Week 10: Home vs Raiders
The Raiders have an offense that could surprise many people. Quarterback Carson Palmer will have had a whole offseason to learn the offense and gel with all their speedy WRs. Expect the Raiders to attack the Ravens on play action deep passes taking advantage of their speed at WR and the threat of RB Darren McFadden running the ball. The Raiders defense is a whole different conversation so this could be a high scoring game. This game will be much closer than anyone will expect.
Prediction: Ravens 34 Raiders 30 (Record 5-4)
Week 11: Away vs Steelers
The heated rivalry will on Sunday night football as usual, this time in Pittsburgh. This is the expected time when OLB Terrell Suggs said he will be back which would be a big boost for the Ravens against the subpar Steelers offensive line. Over the recent years Suggs has been a Steelers killer and he had 5.5 sacks against them in 4 games the last 2 years. Even if Suggs is back he won’t be at fully strength and will have a minimal impact in game but a big impact on the Raven’s confidence.
Prediction: Steelers 17 Ravens 14 (Record 5-5)
Week 12: Away vs Chargers
This game will be a must win for the Ravens because if the lose they will be 5-6 and they probably would have to win out to make the playoffs. Last year the Chargers embarrassed the Ravens on Sunday Night Football 34-14. This game will be tough as they will have just played a very physical game against the Steelers and have to play them again next week. The Chargers torched CB Jimmy Smith last year but part of the problem was WR Vincent Jackson who left for the Buccaneers in free agency. I trust John Harbaugh to get the Ravens ready for this game.
Prediction: Ravens 27 Chargers 17 (Record 6-5)
Week 13: Home vs Steelers
The second game in 3 weeks against the Steelers will be important as the winner of this game should have the easy road to winning the division assuming they both play to expectations. An important factor to winning this game will to show something the defenses didn’t see the week before. If this doesn’t happen it could be a slugfest ending in a very low scoring game.
Prediction: Ravens 16 Steelers 10 (Record 7-5)
Week 14: Away vs Redskins
The Battle of the Beltway will take place again but against a very different Redskins team than the one the Ravens beat in 2008. Most importantly there is a new QB and coaching staff. I expect the Ravens defense to confuse rookie QB Robert Griffin III at times and for him to make some great plays by moving the pocket. As stated above in the Eagles game the Ravens have had trouble with running QBs before so it should be no different for Griffin. However, the Redskins offensive line won’t give Griffin enough time so most of the Redskins good plays will come from Griffin on the move. Four years from now this could be a very competitive game but not this year.
Prediction: Ravens 26 Redskins 14 (Record 8-5)
Week 15: Home vs Broncos
New Broncos QB Peyton Manning has had the Ravens number throughout his whole career but this year should be different. Manning doesn’t have as good a supporting cast this year with the Broncos. The Broncos have too many problems this year to be competitive so they might not even make the playoffs. At this point the Ravens will be fighting for a playoff spot so they should come out strong and finally beat Peyton.
Prediction: Ravens 28 Broncos 17 (Record 9-5)
Week 16: Home vs Giants
The last thing the Ravens want to do is face the defending Super Bowl champions while fighting for a playoff spot. The Giants didn’t lose many important players so they have a good chance to repeat as champions barring any injuries. Coming into this game the Ravens will have won 4 in a row but a different Manning will trip them up as Eli and company seem like to much for the Ravens at this point.
Prediction: Giants 17 Ravens 14 (Record 9-6)
Week 17: Away vs Bengals
Last year the Ravens finished the season with a 24-16 win over the Bengals. However, the Ravens had already clinched a playoff spot by then and they weren’t really playing for much. This time around the Ravens will be fighting for their life as 9-7 is not a good position to be in when the season is over. Sometimes you can make the playoffs as the 6 seed and other times you can’t. If they Ravens win they still could have a shot at the division title depending on how the Steelers finish out the season. The Bengals will look to avenge their week one loss and their playoff spot could be on the line also. With all this being said, the Ravens will win as they have tons of experience in these situations and the Bengals are still a young team.
Prediction: Ravens 26 Bengals 16 (Final Record 10-6)
In this scenario the Ravens will finish with a 10-6 record. Since I also predict the Steelers to go 10-6 the division champion will be determined by tiebreaker. They will have both gone 1-1 against each other so the next tiebreaker is divisional record where the Ravens will win with their divisional record of 5-1 against the Steelers 4-2 (lose to Bengals once). This should be good for the 3rd or 4th seed setting up a possible wild card playoff matchup against the Steelers.
Average points scored per game: 22.4
Average points allowed per game: 17.8